Supporting the Evolution of Offshore Comms with Hytera
Scheduled to become operational in 2018, Galloper Offshore Wind Farm is currently under construction 50km off the Suffolk coast. As Galloper will become one of the biggest offshore Wind Farms in British waters, reliable communications are essential not just to organise work, but also to ensure the health and safety of employees.
Galloper’s Principal Marine Services contractor, James Fisher Marine Services, selected Lowestoft-based Fern Communications, an authorised Hytera dealer, to develop a purpose-built Hytera radio communication solution for the area.
FernCom was initially tasked with enabling communications along the Galloper transit routes and across the Galloper Field, which they achieved by installing a multi-site, multi-channel Hytera system. Soon after however, they were challenged by other subcontractors to develop a similar communications solution, which was when they conceptualised Wavecom.
This digital trunked radio system is powered by a Hytera Tier III solution and provides coverage to all existing and future planned wind farm sites. Designed to deliver multiple operators and subcontractors with reliable communications across a wide area, Hytera’s digital trunked radio solution is intended to manage high radio traffic, maximising available capacity across user groups along the single and multi-site geographies.
Conventional systems operate dedicated channels, each of which is allocated to a specific user group. If you want to communicate with a particular group you need to manually select the correct channel.
With a trunked system however, radio channels can be pooled by multiple user groups and if one user wants to speak to another in a different group, the system dynamically finds and assigns a free radio channel.
The Wavecom System is integrated with a range of Hytera portable radios with Marine VHF, data messaging and dispatcher workstations.
The chosen radio handset is the Hytera PD755, which was selected due it its digital display and rugged, waterproof design – all fundamental given the working environment.
The inclusion of the Hytera SmartXPT dispatcher console provides a centralised control hub to manage and direct the DMR radio fleet; the management team can also benefit from a wide range of features such as text messaging capabilities to single or multiple handsets and voice transmission recording. Another exclusive feature offered by SmartXPT is crosspatch that allows two separate companies working on site to communicate through a private channel for inter-company coms.
The complete Wavecom solution offers a high level of redundancy and is tracked by a comprehensive diagnostic alarm control system designed and built by FernCom to monitor the environmental conditions in which the communications equipment is kept. Sensors are set-up to identify issues with power, cables or antenna and any problems will trigger an alert to the dedicated support team who can resolve the issue as quickly as possible.
Siemens Games, Wavecom’s first customer, is using the system to integrate their offshore Marine Control Centre with portables and vessel radios working in the ports, the transit routes and the Galloper Field. The users have always had difficulty operating the hand portable radios inside turbine towers at sea, but Wavecom’s unique solution and the Hytera devices ensure they can now communicate with the wider system.
Thanks to the thought leadership and innovation at FernCom, combined with the leading Hytera digital solutions, offshore coverage for radio comms is now supported.
To recognise the outstanding work undertaken in developing Wavecom, FernCom engineer James Cleverly was recently awarded the Hytera Engineering Award – launched to recognise the skill of the top engineers in the radio industry.